Apple to Amazon: ‘App Store’ Isn’t Generic, and You’re No App Store

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Silly Amazon, “App Store” isn’t a generic term, and besides, you’re no App Store—so said Apple in a filing yesterday to a California federal court. Apple’s squaring off with Amazon over the latter’s use of the phrase “Appstore” (one word, no spaces) on its Android apps page.

In fact Cupertino sued the mega e-tailer in March, claiming “Amazon has begun improperly using Apple’s App Store mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile-software developer program.”

Amazon’s response? Silly Apple, “app store” is just generic-speak for a store that sells apps. Waving off Apple’s lawsuit, Amazon wrote “the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps, such as the app stores operated by Amazon and Apple.” It then cited the American Dialect Society as recently voting “apps” its 2010 “Word of the Year,” noting the word “has been around for ages.”

“Indeed, the words ‘app store’ are commonly used among many businesses competing in the app store market,” said Amazon in its April counterclaim.

Apple’s response-to-the-response in yesterday’s filing: “Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps.”

I know, sounds a little loco to me, too—torturing semantics while claiming to own a term simply because you’ve been the most broadly successful at plying it. Then again, if you can trademark the generic name for a type of fruit, what can’t you trademark?

Show of hands: does “app store” mean Apple App Store to you? Or does it mean “a store for apps,” irrespective of platform or publisher?

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